Lou Hoover on Women and Politics

By Thomas F. Schwartz

Lou Hoover never voiced an interest in running for political office.  Her philosophy of “lead from behind” preferred a role as quiet mentor and not outspoken leader.  This did not prevent her from voicing her opinion on the larger role that women play in leadership and governance.  Speaking before a gathering of Republican women in 1923, Lou declared:

“Women should get into politics.  They should take a more active part in civic affairs, give up some of their time devoted to pleasure for their duty as citizens.  Whether we are wanted in politics or not, we are here to stay and the only force that can put us out is that which gave us the vote.  The vote itself is not a perfect utility.  It is perfected in the way in which it is used.”

A previous blog post described Lou’s support for the League of Women Voters and the constructive role it played in civic engagement, Lou spoke at a League dinner in the spring of 1923, underscoring the importance of the organization.

“If all women have no the time to give personal services to the ideals of the League, they can at least see that the proper laws are enacted by voting at the polls.  One of the principal purposes of the League is to study and clarify for the benefit of women voters the meaning of the government and its machinations.  As a strictly nonpartisan organization, the League can be and will be more of a power behind the throne than were it to enter the field as a third party.  It is not only for nonpartisan voters but for those in either party.

We need women as well as men in politics.  To make a party whole there should be as many feminine as masculine minds.”

A healthy body politic required everyone to fulfill their civic duty.  For some, it meant running and serving in public office, for most it meant being informed about the issues facing the nation and their community and voting in elections. 

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